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A NEW KITTEN, AND A CAT POULTICE
June 18, 2004
 
Get off my foot, I say to the kitten. Her tiny claws are surprisingly sharp, although there's not much heft behind them yet, and I'm tired of her climbing up my bare leg. I'm also tired of finding her tiny but most potent turds in the corner of my office. I put mothballs down last afternoon, which should discourage her from going there. Cats are supposed to hate mothballs. But there's a lot of cat lore and etiquette that little Noodle doesn't know about yet. Hating mothballs might be one of those.

Why do we have a kitten, when we already had three adult cats? Well, sometimes these things happen, and you just have to accept them. Besides, Noodle can be the replacement cat for 17-year-old Kate, when Kate shuffles off this mortal coil. But Kate seems well and happy, if a little bony, so I expect that Noodle and Kate will overlap for some years. Who knows -- if Noodle keeps climbing up my leg, Kate could outlive her.

Three teenagers and I took Noodle for her first vet visit yesterday. The vet seemed to take it well, the giggling committee in his examining room. Solemnly, Rosie showed him the pricey food she bought for Noodle. That's fine, he said, anything that says "kitten" on it is fine. Hold off on the catnip for a while, though: children shouldn't use drugs. He held Noodle up by the scruff of her neck and the girls squealed: Doesn't that hurt her? But Noodle seemed calm about being lifted that way; it reminded her of her mother.

She was not calm about her injection, though, and she cried out, prompting a chorus of anxious ooohs from the girls. Don't play with her too much for the rest of the day, said the doctor, she'll be tired.

Can you take her back home, Mamo? And I'll be back later? Rose wanted to know. Maybe the kitten was tired, but the girls weren't. Ready to play, almost all the time. Full of energy -- except for the sudden plummets into exhaustion when it's time to get up and go to school.

They all got out at one of their houses and the car was quiet. Just me and the tired kitten. I thought of next week, when I will return to the vet with the other three breathing threats and hissing at each other through the vents in their traveling cat carriers. That's should be quite an occasion: in an odd way, I'm looking forward to it. What will it be like to take three cats to the vet at once?

Interesting, is what it'll be. And expensive, for sure. But cats love that. Banana, the cat next door, just insisted that Grace drop five hundred dollars on him for injuries he sustained in a fight he almost certainly started.

In my entire life, I have never not had a cat. Never. They have melted silently around the corners of doors in every house I've ever lived in. They have regarded my saddest moments with their bland unsurprise, and I have found their furry presence comforting. I'm here, they say, and you can cuddle me if you like. Perhaps it will make you feel better. In any case, I'll enjoy it, so that's one of us. Could you just stroke a little higher, up around my jaw?

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